Last weekend we held the No Debt, No Sweat workshop with Steve Diggs here at Northwest. We put up banners. We had spots run on local Christian radio. We had nice signage. We made flyers for people to take to people they knew. We put it on our website. We did just about everything we knew to do in order to get as many members and visitors here as possible.
We didn’t have a single visitor come who said they heard about us on the radio. We didn’t have a single person who said they found out about it on our website. Not a single person came because they saw the banners we put in front of our building on a very busy street in St. Pete. There is no telling how many thousands of people heard even just one of our 12 radio spots heard all over the Tampa Bay area, referring people to our website. There was no noticeable difference in web traffic! 100% of the visitors that I can put my finger on why they came were personally invited by someone. That was the cheapest advertising we did and the most effective.
That really tells us something about what is meaningful to people. It doesn’t mean much to drive by an impersonal building or hear a radio spot for something, even if you really need it. People only came if they knew someone. The one lesson we learned in advertising from this event is that people have to get mobilized. We need to provide them the materials, the handouts, the information, and motivate them to invite the people they know.
When Andrew met Jesus the first thing he had to do was go and get his brother Simon Peter (John 1:40-42). Imagine if some stranger told Peter they found the messiah rather than his own brother. Do you think he would have believed them as quickly? He wouldn’t because trust isn’t there. But when someone he loves and trusts tells him something important is going on he is quick to respond. I wonder what percentage of our advertising money is spent on impersonal invitations and how much is geared toward a more organic approach of mobilizing people who know people?
When people think something is important, meaningful, and useful to those they know they will go and tell. But if people don’t feel there is anything worth repeating, chances are they won’t. People are our best form of advertising. People put a face on it. Already established relationships have rapport and trust that just isn’t earned in a 30 second radio spot or a sign in front of the building. People telling people is a method that is thousands of years old but still the best thing around.